Adam Schlesinger, Secret-Weapon Pop Songwriter, Dies At 52 From Coronavirus Complications

Adam Schlesinger, who wrote and co-wrote dozens of hook-emblazoned pop-rock songs in a career that spanned a quarter-century, has died of complications related to the novel coronavirus, outlets are reporting. He was 52.

Schlesinger died Wednesday (April 1) following reports from earlier in the week that he’d been hospitalized and placed on a ventilator after testing positive for the virus. His lawyer, Josh Grier, told Billboard that he’d been hospitalized for over a week.

A key member of the bands Ivy, Tinted Windows, and Fountains of Wayne — with whom he scored the eternal 2003 power-pop hit “Stacy’s Mom,” which he co-wrote — Schlesinger was a prolific songwriter whose honeyed hooks were not confined to a single musical project. “People assume there’s some rivalry, like we’re vying for the rights to Adam,” his Ivy bandmate Andy Chase told MTV News in 1998. “Adam’s managed to forge ahead to be in a separate band, and it’s been very cool for us.”

In 1996, he penned and performed on the title track to the Tom Hanks film That Thing You Do!, pantomimed in the movie by the fictional band The Wonders. In addition to becoming a fiercely beloved pop music staple covered by artists from NSYNC to New Found Glory, the song earned Schlesinger nominations for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.

In the mid-2000s, after the success of “Stacy’s Mom,” he helped launch the major-label career of The Click Five by writing their breakout hit “Just the Girl” and album cut “I’ll Take My Chances.” He also penned “I Am What I Am,” an early Jonas Brothers song; a handful of cuts for Emily Osment’s Fight or Flight in 2010; one for Big Time Rush; and dozens more.

Fountains of Wayne also scored two nominations at the 2003 Grammys. Five years later, he took home a Grammy for his work on Stephen Colbert’s Christmas special and subsequent album. His work on the Broadway adaptation of John Waters’s musical Cry-Baby also landed Schlesinger two Tony nominations. He’d also worked on Sarah Silverman’s forthcoming Broadway show called The Bedwetter.

Schlesinger’s music was often also heard on television — he won one Emmy and was nominated for 10, thanks to his work with Rachel Bloom and Jack Dolgen on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — and in film. He scored Shallow Hal with his band Ivy and wrote three songs for the rom-com Music and Lyrics, starring Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant.

The more you dive in, the more you’ll discover. That was Schlesinger’s status as a musical secret weapon, and it will be his legacy. An MTV News staffer recently called him “our generation’s Ric Ocasek.” As the tributes — which have begun rolling in from fans, friends, and fellow musicians — are demonstrating, the way his music connected felt highly personal. That’s why he will be dearly missed.

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